Everyone is afraid of something. (Even if some of us will never admit it.)
When it comes to phobias, there are several that we all know like claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders). But there are several more that you’re probably not as familiar with:
- Lachanophobia – fear of vegetables (Could have used that when I was a kid.)
- Phasmophobia – fear of ghosts (Maybe even the cute trick-or-treat ones at your door.)
- Nomophobia – fear of being without your phone (It seems like everyone has this one.)
- Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – fear of long words (A little too ironic, don’t you think?)
But as accountants, there’s one that stands out to us more than any of the others: Forosophobia.
It’s real, and you might have it. This post will let you know what it is, if you should be worried, and what you can do about it.
What Is Forosophobia?
No one really likes dealing with taxes. It is normal for most people to want to put things off as long as possible because they dread the process of assembling information, filling out forms, and filing returns. But for some people, those feelings go a lot further.
“Forosophobia” is the fear of taxes and the IRS.
Responses to phobias of all kinds generally involve sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, severe anxiety, etc. Along with similar physical signs, if you were looking for specific symptoms of someone experiencing forosophobia, you might notice
- tax avoidance and procrastination
- extreme anxiousness discussing taxes
- refusal to open letters from the IRS
- fear that IRS agents might unexpectedly come to their house
This condition sounds irrational, it can seem like it is impossible to overcome for those who are suffering from it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With good information and a little help from a good CPA, no one needs to experience forosophobia ever again.
Let’s fix the fear by answering a couple of common questions.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Tax On Time?
The penalties are based on how late you file and how much of your original payment is still due. The fines will not exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes, however.
Additionally, the IRS charges interest on underpayments. These begin on the date the payment was originally due and continue to build until the amount due is paid in full.
If you are able to show reasonable cause as to why you weren’t able to meet your tax deadlines or pay taxes that you owe, the IRS will sometimes reduce or remove penalties and work with you to set up a payment plan.
Do IRS Agents Come To Your House?
It can sound like something from a scene in a movie, but unfortunately for people who go long enough without paying their taxes having IRS agents knock on your door can be very real.
Revenue officers from the IRS sometimes have to go to people’s houses (and places of business) in order to collect past due tax money that is owed to the government. These agents are assigned to visit the most urgent collection risks, so if they are sent to your home or workplace it is a big deal. You should definitely take the situation seriously.
The good news is that the IRS has ended unannounced revenue officer visits as of this year. For decades, IRS revenue officers made tens of thousands of visits each year. The policy change is designed to significantly reduce that number in order to help improve the agency’s image and improve safety for their agents.
It also helps taxpayers avoid being scammed by IRS impersonators. According to the announcement, “The growth in scam artists bombarding taxpayers has increased confusion about home visits by IRS revenue officers. Sometimes scam artists appear at the door posing as IRS agents, creating confusion for not just the taxpayers living there but local law enforcement.”
Instead of home visits, agents will now send out letters to schedule appointments with delinquent filers and payers.
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Trust In The Government Is Low
If the thought of having to deal with IRS agents who have been tasked with contacting you in order to collect money makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. Even if you aren’t diagnosed with Forosophobia, you may simply be among the 80% of Americans whose trust in government is low.
According to a recent Pew Research study, “Public trust in the federal government, which has been low for decades, has returned to near record lows…Currently, fewer than two-in-ten Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right.”
Many people feel this way either because of how taxpayer money is handled, response (or lack thereof) to disasters and emergency events, lack of information and transparency, or the way a particular group of people is favored versus another.
There can be little doubt that these feelings play a role in how much anxiety a person feels when they are forced to interact with the IRS about overdue returns or tax payments.
What Can You Do To Avoid IRS Revenue Officers
No one should have to be in situations where they have to deal with collections agents. (If you do find yourself in that situation, more than likely it’s not going to be a surprise to you.) The circumstances that led to them contacting you will be things you’re aware of. And they can be completely avoided with some preparation and planning.
- Don’t set yourself up for DIY failure. You may save a few dollars by doing your own taxes, but you run the risk of missing important deadlines, filling out forms incorrectly, or making other costly mistakes.
- Hire a good professional. A qualified CPA understands complicated tax laws and will be up-to-date on recent changes. They can prepare your taxes so that you take advantage of all deductions and credits, paying only what you actually owe. And they know what deadlines apply to your situation and will make sure you meet them.
- Enjoy peace of mind. Avoid hassle, stress, and fear when you have someone on your team who is laser-focused on making sure everything is done right the first time.
Avoid Forosophobia: Trust A Pro To Do Your Taxes
Dealing with the IRS doesn’t have to be anything to be afraid of…if you’ve prepared and partnered with a good CPA. If you’ve got phasmophobia, call Ghostbusters. If you’re wanting to avoid forosophobia, we’re the ones you’re looking for.